The World Famous "Fence Wizard": Mel Kay defends Golden State Fence reputation and history....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Mel Kay defends Golden State Fence reputation and history....

As visible below, Mel Kay has commented directly on the Fence Wizard article "Golden State Fence changes name to "Fence Works" in attempt to rebuild reputation...."
Because this is an open forum we are posting Mel's response as an original article in order to provide him with a fair opportunity to have his comments read by all.

Dear Fence Wizard:

I was shocked at all the inaccuracies after reading your column in regards to Fenceworks. Please allow us the same space to address these outrageous accusations.

First of all, there has never been any attempt to sidestep the law to undersell our competition. Our success rate from bid to sell is not much different that anyone else. We just bid more projects.

Cheaper labor? We lead the nation in our industry regarding the wages we pay our employees from the yard personnel to installation to office. Our installers averaged $59M a year for 2004-2006. Some earned as high as $105M. We also provide two-three week vacations, holiday, sick pay plus health insurance along with a life insurance policy and it doesn’t matter what color their skin is or where they were born. The majority of our installers have been with our company 15-25 years. That must say something for our company.

Cheaper materials? Oh my goodness – we’re the ones that led the way starting in 1992 changing the standard practice of setting raw steel posts for wrought iron fencing to using all galvanized posts and we are still one of the few contractors doing this.

We’re the ones who developed and changed the installation method of welding to bolt-on attachments to avoid field welding which penetrates all the coats of paint and promotes rust.

We’re the ones who led the industry in selling only pre-galvanized wrought iron or aluminum and today, we’re one of the few shops adhering 100% to this policy – all at an additional cost to us.

We’re the ones who set the standards for implementing the use of only hi-grade fence board and rails. If it doesn’t meet the grade standard of the West Coast Lumberman’s Inspection Board (WCLIB) Paragraph 117A, we leave it alone and let others buy it. Please visit any of our jobsites over the last 12-15 years and see the proof.

We’re the ones that were instrumental in getting some of the major vinyl fence manufacturers to increase the thickness of their product to improve stability.

Price dumping? Where in the world did this come from? Because we pay our bills on time, work our butts off, and put our company first allowing us to buy direct from the source such as sawmills, steel mills, vinyl manufacturers, etc., we’re accused of price dumping? Nothing is further from the truth. We just eliminate the middleman.

Illegal Immigration - We hired 1942 employees from September 1999 thru November 2005. Ten of those employees were rehired under different names at different locations – not 235. For this we paid a steep, steep price – a lifetime of retirement savings and investments, and irreparable damage to an impeccable record of 40+ years in the fence business. As Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here” and along with my VP & GM, Mr. Michael McLaughlin, we stepped up to the plate and accepted full responsibility for the 10 employees (who didn’t make one iota’s difference to our bottom line). If anything, we were guilty of too much compassion!

Name Change? Since our incorporation in 1998, we’ve always been Fenceworks, Incorporated DBA Golden State Fence Company and this was only because we found there was another Golden State Fence that had incorporated that name in Sacramento before us. As work has slowed due to the horrific construction slump, we’ve been pushing out further and further to try and get work. In doing so, we’re now operating in the Sacramento area – the same city the other Golden State Fence operates out of so therefore it was necessary to switch to Fenceworks Inc. to avoid confusion. Nothing devious about this.

Fence Specialties – We have a wholesale operation that sells only materials and we operate it as a separate division. Nothing devious about this.

Fencecorp – Yes, it’s our public works shop, same as some of our other competition does with different shops. These jobs pay extremely high wages and are much different than the private contractor-type fencing we provide through Fenceworks/Golden State Fence and it helps to keep it separated. Nothing devious about this.

You say we have the audacity to beg other companies to implement a citizenry check. You bet we do. I will do whatever I can to warn others in my trade (or any other) to avoid what happened to Golden State Fence, Mike McLaughlin, and me personally. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

We’ve become very proactive. We’ve paid our attorneys to speak before builders conventions. We’ve done the same at subcontractor meetings. Many of our competitors have visited our office for further guidance and information which we gladly provided. I am personally speaking before the American Immigration Lawyers Association Convention on 11/30/07 in Scottsdale, AZ. We are signatory to the E-Verify Federal Voluntary Program and every Fenceworks employee has been run through it. We’ve adopted a new Code of Ethics and Conduct that the government helped us prepare and we’ve shared this with numerous competitors. So yes, I am guilty of the above. Please keep in mind, more fence companies than not currently employ “illegals”.

In closing, I am hoping you will be fair and let this also be publicized. I would also like to extend my personal invitation (all expenses paid by us) for you to visit our facility so you are able to meet those that make our organization work. I believe once you see first hand how Fenceworks really operates, you will realize how unfair it was in accusing us of being cheaters. I look forward to meeting you. I feel between what you have to offer along with ourselves, this may be an opportunity to help a lot of other companies from falling into the same situation we experienced.

Mel Kay


Donald Sutherland said...

I read your entire reply - what I dont understand is that is seems as if you were playing dumb before and even after the audits - when a worker applied for work and did not speak english for example and is not part of a guest worker or visa program - what exactly did you think was happening? Certainly, racism can not be involved in the hiring process - but other factors must be involved.
La Jolla, CA

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